PARTIES THAT MATTER
The Congress has been in power for most of the time in the hill state.
The party formed the government for the first time with 27 legislators in 1952 when there was territorial council. YS Parmar was the first chief minister. Parmar led the government with 45 legislators in 1963 and again when the Vidhan Sabha was constituted that year.
The Congress was back in power in 1967 and 1977. Thakur Ram Lal led the Congress back to power in 1980 but in 1983, the Congress high command sent Virbhadra Singh, a Union minister, to take charge in the state. His winning streak continued till 1989. He was checkmated by Shanta Kumar but the government did not last its term. Virbhadra ruled the state from 1993-98. The Congress rode on the anti-incumbency factor to return to power in 2012. But this time Virbhadra remained busy fighting corruption cases and governance took a beating. The cases and deteriorating law and order gave the opposition ammunition.
Riding high on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma and striving hard to regain power, the party has not projected any chief ministerial face. The BJP has been on a publicity overdrive in Himachal for a year, launching a series of drives to bolster its campaign in the hill state. Scores of central leaders, including Modi and party chief Amit Shah, are taking keen interest in the campaign and have managed to keep factionalism at bay. The party has a strong base in lower Himachal.
In 1998, Prem Kumar Dhumal formed the government with the help of Sukh Ram’s Himachal Vikas Congress and later made inroads in Congress strongholds, including the apple-growing belt. Dhumal formed the government in 2008 but infighting led to defeat in 2012. This time, the party has decided not to project a CM candidate and focusing on winning. It has been wooing Scheduled Castes. The RSS cadres in Himachal have already fanned out to bolster the BJP campaign
The presence of Left parties in the assembly has been negligible. Tarachand from Jogindernagar was the first CPI leader to make it to the Vidhan Sabha in 1963. Two CPI leaders Balak Ram and Paras Ram were elected in 1967. Tulsi Ram of the CPM won from Balh in 1972. CPM candidate Rakesh Singha won the Shimla seat in 1993 by 150 votes, defeating Harbhajan Singh Bhajji.